While dreaming of winning trophies and medals from prestigious competitions, athletes often forget that there is a life after sports. From that aspect, education should be an important part of life of every young athlete, as a guarantor of a carefree future at the end of playing career.

We spoke with Marta Tutic, graduate psychologist, who helped us understand that it is hard to deal with life after sports, especially when it comes to injuries, which are unpredictable. We talked about the impact of higher education on an individual’s sports career, and what emotions athletes face after ending their professional engagement. Marta also gave young athletes some useful tips for successful learning, in addition to sports obligations.

  1. Can the fact that an athlete is highly educated/not highly educated affect his sports career? If so, in what way?

On the one hand, for athletes, a university degree is not an entrance ticket for any club or world of professional sports. In that sense, higher education will not jeopardize someone’s potential sports engagement. On the other hand, a highly educated athlete has acquired numerous skills and knowledge through schooling, which he can use both in the sports world and outside it. He has expanded his horizons and ensured a secure future for himself and his family. Unfortunately, sport is unpredictable, and injuries happen every day, so that should be kept in mind. Also, as a professional athlete, you have to be aware that you will not always be able to play at the top level. There is a life after playing career, so you need to plan your future wisely and gradually work on it off the court. Attending college, in that case, is one big but smart move.

  1. Can a college degree boost self-confidence in athletes and give them a sense of security?

University degree gives every individual a sense of security and self-confidence, especially to athletes who are always under the watchful eye of public, coaches, teammates, managers… By graduating from college, they have provided carefree and more certain future, unlike their colleagues, for whom college was not a priority. In this way, those who are more anxious will at least have a plan about life after sports. They will be more confident in themselves and their mental capacities, which are equally important to strengthen, as well as physical strength. It is certain that they will be self-confident and proud of themselves, because in addition to demanding schedule that professional sports put in front of them, they managed to set aside time for themselves, for learning and training.

  1. What emotions may an athlete experience after ending his playing career?

Athletes can begin to face the fear of uncertainty and novelty towards the end of their careers. Very often they ask themselves whether there is life after sports. They feel as if they are losing a part of their identity, because they are no longer active players. They need time to find a new rhythm of living. Some of them see the brighter side of the end of their playing career, as an opportunity to dedicate themselves to family and friends and take a break from numerous exhausting trainings and matches.

It is important for them to stay involved in sports after their playing career (through coaching activities, recreational exercise, etc.), to discover who they are without sports on a daily basis, and have fun with activities they may not have had time for during their playing career. They should gradually accept that a significant part of their lives is over and that they have a large number of opportunities that they can and should take advantage of.

  1. Can you give some advice to athletes who are studying and playing sports professionally at the same time? How to harmonize obligations, feel good and be successful in both fields?

Good organization is half of job! If athletes build great work habits and have routines that they adhere to, that kind of discipline and organization will keep them on the path to success in sports and to a university degree. It is important to be persistent, but also be sure that you have enough time to rest. Physically and mentally tired athletes will not be effective, either on the sports court or at the college. Sports psychologists can help them learn how to be present and successful in both fields, to organize their time, learn more efficiently and adopt course materials.

  1. In your opinion, what are the main problems that athletes face in a “normal” life, apart from playing sports?

Athletes often face sense of insecurity, lack of self-confidence and anxiety, as do all other people outside the world of sports. It is difficult for athletes to deal with pressure and expectations of the audience and fans, so they can often be the target of criticism from disappointed fans, if the match did not go as they expected.

If you have a lack of motivation or you need any advice from a sports psychologist, feel free to contact @psihologmarta on Instagram.